SCARBOROUGH — Elizabeth “Lizzy” Roth spent two hours last Saturday picking out toys for Christmas, but she wasn’t shopping for herself, her family, or even anyone she knows.
The 14-year-old was shopping for gifts to donate to Toys for Tots, a tradition she and her uncle, John Roth, have been at for the past nine years.
It all began in 2009 when John took Lizzy shopping a few weeks before Christmas with a calculator and a $200 budget.
Only 5 years old at the time, she had to be told over and over that the gifts weren’t for her, but for other children in need. Altruistic giving was a concept she said she had not yet grasped.
But the tradition stuck, and since that first year, John and Lizzy have been celebrating the season with a local shopping spree for charity.
“Once I understood I was helping other kids, I knew I had to keep doing it,” Lizzy said.
As she got older, Lizzy began collecting donations from family members in the months leading up to Christmas and bringing bottles to redemption centers.
This year, she and her uncle were able to buy approximately $800 worth of toys from Marden’s and Walmart, including action figures, dolls, board games, puzzles and books.
Lizzy said rather than simply donating the money she raised, she prefers to do the shopping herself because she likes thinking about what other kids, from adolescents to teenagers, would like to see under their Christmas trees.
“I love going out and … picking out toys and seeing what the options are,” Lizzy said. “It’s exciting for me.”
As Lizzy looks to her 10th year in 2019, her goal is to have $1,000 to spend. She has already asked her mom and grandmother to save any recyclable bottles and will be sending an annual request via text to aunts and uncles next November.
“It’s kind of like I have no words (to describe it),” Lizzy said. “I feel so happy and joyful to help.”
Scarborough Middle School student Elizabeth “Lizzy” Roth and her uncle, John Roth, shop at Marden’s on Dec. 15 for gifts to donate to Toys for Tots. This is the ninth year they’ve collected gifts.
Lizzy Roth sits at her home in Scarborough with toys she and her uncle, John Roth, purchased for Toys for Tots. When their annual tradition started in 2009, they spent $200 on toys. This year, they spent about $800. Next year, Lizzy said she hopes to raise $1,000 for the cause.